Flowers on the Red Light Street

Bangkok. What a city!

Its bittersweet charm

Can hypnotize your mind

And make you want to stay

Forever

In the Land of Smiles

Fried Pad Thai

And Happy Ending Massage.

***

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Bangkok!

Please have your drink and enjoy the show

Let our stars entertain you tonight

Just have a look, each of them smiles from between naked thighs

Each of them has a skill that will make you scream

Monkey Number One will spit out a pink ribbon and draw shapes in the air

Better than an acrobat from Cirque du Soleil!

Monkey Number Two shall amaze you with her dexterous use of razor blades!

“Where did they come from?” you may say

Monkey Number Three can drink a whole bottle of water with her tiny mouth

And turn it into coke inside. Huh!

The next one may look like your grandma

But would your grandma shoot darts with such precision and charm?

Boom! A balloon explodes in the hands of that lucky man

Boom! His life will never be the same

Look at that young one over there

She will blow all the candles on a cake

With a few graceful squats up and down

You should order her for the birthday of your son

Instead of that creepy clown

But don’t be overwhelmed by all those wonders just yet

Because here comes the famous match

Oh my, who would guess that? 

The Ping-Pong ball goes straight to its goal! And one more!

Our champion will not miss the bowl

Oh, no! The last one landed in that mister’s pint

Sir, you can take it home as a souvenir for your wife

To end with a bang this glorious night

Let our last performer write a note for the lovely crowd:

“Welcome to Thailand” and a few little hearts on the side

(And one downtrodden heart inside)

Ladies and Gentleman, how talented those monkeys are!

They deserve a big tip, don’t they? Be generous, my friends!

But let me collect the donations, I will keep them safe

Madam, did you enjoy the show?

Oh… It left me in awe. How could I describe it with words?

It was… like watching a massacre from behind the bullet-proof door

With a beer and a bag of popcorn

How much is a woman’s body worth?

A few baht as a tip is enough to strip? Strip down from humanity?

Enough to shit into your sacred nest of motherly love and divine zest?

Enough to become a monkey on a circus show?

It was… like stealing candlesticks from a church

Like riding on a pig to a mosque

Like stepping on Buddha’s face

Like shooting the Pope!

All of it for the pleasure of a Western boy

Yet I was there too, on the enemy’s side

It was I, holding a bottle of Coke while that young girl with empty eyes

Opened it with one slick move of her butt

I, handing her a banknote to degrade her existence even more

I, supporting her enslavers’ kingdom

I, contributing with my tourist curiosity to the burden of her disgrace

I, spitting into Aphrodite’s face

I, burning temples, burning them all

I, throwing my stone for the condemnation

Of the red-light district souls!

I was one of them, one of the Western masters

Instead of being her sister

Instead of saying no to that fucking Ping-Pong Show!

***

Bittersweet.

That’s how Bangkok is.

Sweet like the smile of a little girl

Selling flowers on the Red Light Street.

Bitter like the lips of her mother

Chopping herself into pieces

To feed the mouth of capitalism.

POEM FEATURED IN THE NOVEL HAPPY EVER(YWHERE) AFTER.

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